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Central Division

East Division

Series Wrapup

Story

Another banner year by Barry Bonds led the San Francisco Giants to their second N.L. West title in four years in 2003, as they compiled a regular-season record of 100-61 that left them 15 ½ games ahead of the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers in the division.  The Giants also had solid pitching, placing second in the N.L. rankings with a 3.73 team ERA.  Jason Schmidt served as staff ace, compiling a record of 17-5 and a league-leading 2.34 ERA.  But, with the Giants finishing just sixth in the senior circuit in runs scored, it was Bonds who legitimized their offense, enabling them to run away with the division crown.  Although Bonds appeared in only 130 games and accumulated just 390 official at-bats, he hit 45 home runs, knocked in 90 runs, scored 111 others, batted .341, and led the league with 148 walks, a .529 on-base percentage, and a .749 slugging average.  The outfielder’s extraordinary performance earned him his third straight MVP trophy, and the sixth of his career.

The Atlanta Braves similarly ran away with the N.L. East, finishing first in the division for the ninth consecutive year.  The Braves concluded the campaign with a record of 101-61 that placed them 10 games ahead of the runner-up Florida Marlins, who advanced to the postseason as the senior circuit’s wild-card representative.   

Interestingly, the Braves used a somewhat different formula than the one they employed to capture their previous eight division titles.  Instead of relying heavily on outstanding pitching to thwart the opposition, the Braves depended more on the league’s most potent offense.  Atlanta topped the senior circuit with 907 runs scored, 235 home runs, a .284 team batting average, and a .475 team slugging average.  Javy Lopez, Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, and Gary Sheffield served as the focal points of Atlanta’s attack.  Lopez hit 43 homers, drove in 109 runs, and batted .328.  Andruw Jones went deep 36 times, knocked in 116 runs, scored 101 others, and batted .277.  Chipper Jones hit 27 homers, drove in 106 runs, scored 103 others, and batted .305.  Sheffield earned a third-place finish in the N.L. MVP voting by placing among the league leaders with 39 home runs, 132 runs batted in, 126 runs scored, and a .330 batting average.  Rafael Furcal also chipped in with a .292 batting average, 25 stolen bases, and 130 runs scored.     

Although the Braves surprisingly finished just ninth in the league with a team ERA of 4.10, they received standout seasons from starter Russ Ortiz and closer John Smoltz.  Ortiz had a career-year, posting a record of 21-7.  Meanwhile, Smoltz compiled a superb 1.12 ERA and placed second in the league with 45 saves.

Despite finishing near the middle of the league rankings in most statistical categories, the runner-up Marlins featured an interesting blend of youth and experience.  Brad Penny, Mark Redman, and 21-year-old N.L. Rookie of the Year Dontrelle Willis tied for the team lead with 14 victories apiece.  After joining them in the starting rotation during the season’s first half, hard-throwing right-hander Josh Beckett went on to win nine games, compile a fine 3.04 ERA, and strike out 152 batters in only 142 innings of work.  

On offense, speedy centerfielder Juan Pierre batted .305, scored 100 runs, collected 204 hits, and led the league with 65 stolen bases.  Second baseman Luis Castillo batted .314 and scored 99 runs.  Outfielder Juan Encarnacion hit 19 homers and drove in 94 runs.  First baseman Derrek Lee left the yard 31 times and knocked in 92 runs.  Third baseman Mike Lowell led the team with 32 homers and 105 runs batted in.  Ivan Rodriguez added a solid bat and a veteran presence behind the plate, concluding the campaign with a .297 batting average, 85 runs batted in, and 90 runs scored.  

While the Giants and Braves coasted to their respective division titles, the Chicago Cubs prevailed in a close three-team race in the N.L. Central.  The senior circuit’s most improved team, Chicago finished the regular season with a record of 88-74, just one game ahead of the runner-up Houston Astros, and only three games in front of the third-place St. Louis Cardinals.

The lineups of all three clubs featured multiple offensive threats.  Chicago had Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou.  Sosa hit 40 homers, drove in 103 runs, and scored 99 others.  Alou contributed 22 homers and 91 runs batted in.  Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman, and Richard Hidalgo paced the Astros on offense.  Bagwell hit 39 home runs, knocked in 100 runs, and scored 109 others.  Berkman went deep 25 times, drove in 93 runs, and crossed the plate 110 times himself.  Hidalgo hit 28 homers, knocked in 88 runs, scored 91 others, and batted .309.  Meanwhile, the Cardinals featured the formidable threesome of Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen, and Albert Pujols.  Edmonds hit 39 homers, knocked in 89 runs, and scored 89 others.   Rolen left the yard 28 times, drove in 104 runs, scored 98 others, and batted .286.  Pujols earned a second-place finish in the N.L. MVP balloting by placing among the league leaders with 43 home runs and 124 runs batted in and topping the circuit with a .359 batting average, 137 runs scored, 212 hits, and 51 doubles.  

The thing that ultimately tipped the scales ever so slightly in the Cubs’ favor was their superior pitching.  Chicago’s starting rotation included four hurlers who posted double-digit win totals, with hard-throwing right-handers Kerry Wood and Mark Prior leading the way.  Finally healthy, Wood won 14 games, compiled a 3.20 ERA, and led all N.L. hurlers with 266 strikeouts.  Prior was even better, finishing among the league leaders with a record of 18-6, a 2.43 ERA, and 245 strikeouts.

The Cubs surprised the Braves by defeating them in five games in their Division Series matchup.  Wood pitched a masterful Game Five, allowing Atlanta only one run on five hits over eight innings, in leading his team to a 5-1 victory.  Meanwhile, the Marlins stunned the Giants, eliminating them from the postseason tournament by beating them in four games.

The Cubs subsequently appeared poised to make their first World Series appearance in 58 years when they went up three-games-to-two against the Marlins in the NLCS.  However, trailing 3-0 in the eighth inning of Game Six at Wrigley Field, the Marlins exploded for eight runs, to even the Series with an 8-3 victory.  They then clinched their second league championship with a 9-6 win in Game Seven.  

Carrying their momentum into the World Series against the heavily-favored New York Yankees, the Marlins overcame a two-games-to-one deficit to sweep the next three contests and finish off New York in six games.  Josh Beckett earned Series MVP honors by shutting out the Yankees on just five hits in Game Six.  The Marlins emerged victorious even though the Yankees outscored them 21-17 over the course of the Fall Classic.   

Other outstanding performers, notable events, and points of interest from around the league follow:

• March 31 - In the first-ever game at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Cincinnati Reds 10-1.

• June 23 - At Pacific Bell Park, Barry Bonds became the first major leaguer to amass 500 career home runs and 500 career steals by stealing a base during a 3-2 San Francisco victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

• October 14 - In Game Six of the NLCS, with the Chicago Cubs just five outs away from eliminating the Florida Marlins, Cubs fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul fly ball away from Cubs left fielder Moisés Alou, allowing Florida's Luis Castillo to continue batting.  The Cubs subsequently fell apart, allowing the Marlins to score eight times in the inning, en route to dropping an 8-3 decision.  They also lost Game Seven, thereby continuing the "Curse of the Billy Goat."  Bartman became a pariah in Chicago.

• Philadelphia's Kevin Millwood threw a no-hitter against San Francisco on April 27.

• Former Giants star Bobby Bonds (Barry’s father) died of cancer on August 23.

• Dodgers closer Eric Gagne saved 55 games in 55 chances, en route to earning N.L. Cy Young honors.

• Gagne blew the save in the All-Star Game, allowing Ranger Hank Blalock's game-winning homer.

• Colorado’s Preston Wilson led the National League with 141 RBIs.

• Colorado teammate Todd Helton hit 33 home runs, drove in 117 runs, and finished second in the league with a .358 batting average, 135 runs scored, 209 hits, and a .458 on-base percentage.  

• Philadelphia’s Jim Thome knocked in 131 runs, scored 111 others, and led the league with 47 home runs.

• Sammy Sosa hit his 500th homer on April 4.

• The National League suspended Sosa for seven games after a league umpiring crew caught him using a corked bat on June 3.

• Atlanta’s Greg Maddux set a new major league record by winning 15 or more games for the 16th consecutive season.

• Atlanta shortstop Rafael Furcal turned an unassisted triple play on August 10.

• Major League Baseball forced the Montreal Expos to play 22 "home" games in 2003 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

• Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium and San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium closed down after the conclusion of the regular season.

• Cincinnati first baseman Dernell Stenson was murdered in Phoenix on November 5.

Seasons of the National League

1876 · 1877 · 1878 · 1879 · 1880 · 1881 · 1882 · 1883 · 1884 · 1885 · 1886 · 1887 · 1888 · 1889 · 1890 · 1891 · 1892 · 1893 · 1894 · 1895 · 1896 · 1897 · 1898 · 1899 · 1900 · 1901 · 1902 · 1903 · 1904 · 1905 · 1906 · 1907 · 1908 · 1909 · 1910 · 1911 · 1912 · 1913 · 1914 · 1915 · 1916 · 1917 · 1918 · 1919 · 1920 · 1921 · 1922 · 1923 · 1924 · 1925 · 1926 · 1927 · 1928 · 1929 · 1930 · 1931 · 1932 · 1933 · 1934 · 1935 · 1936 · 1937 · 1938 · 1939 · 1940 · 1941 · 1942 · 1943 · 1944 · 1945 · 1946 · 1947 · 1948 · 1949 · 1950 · 1951 · 1952 · 1953 · 1954 · 1955 · 1956 · 1957 · 1958 · 1959 · 1960 · 1961 · 1962 · 1963 · 1964 · 1965 · 1966 · 1967 · 1968 · 1969 · 1970 · 1971 · 1972 · 1973 · 1974 · 1975 · 1976 · 1977 · 1978 · 1979 · 1980 · 1981 · 1982 · 1983 · 1984 · 1985 · 1986 · 1987 · 1988 · 1989 · 1990 · 1991 · 1992 · 1993 · 1994 · 1995 · 1996 · 1997 · 1998 · 1999 · 2000 · 2001 · 2002 · 2003 · 2004 · 2005 · 2006 · 2007 · 2008 · 2009 · 2010  

Batting

TM G AB R H RBI AVG 2B 3B HR SB CS TB OBP SLG OPSLG GIDP SF SH
ARI 2320 5570 717 1467 696 .230 303 47 152 76 38 2320 .341 .357 .733 126 52 63
ATL 2362 5670 907 1608 872 .212 321 31 235 68 22 2696 .342 .341 .756 124 49 65
CHN 2285 5519 724 1431 691 .204 302 24 172 73 31 2297 .351 .304 .704 135 46 80
CIN 2335 5509 694 1349 669 .163 239 21 182 80 34 2176 .284 .233 .578 102 32 66
COL 2352 5518 853 1472 814 .198 330 31 198 63 37 2458 .336 .306 .700 140 38 55
FLO 2190 5490 751 1459 709 .225 292 44 157 150 74 2310 .340 .336 .714 114 41 82
HOU 2390 5583 805 1466 763 .152 308 30 191 66 30 2407 .338 .261 .698 125 38 61
LAN 2292 5458 574 1328 544 .184 260 25 124 80 36 2010 .294 .269 .620 121 28 71
MIL 2294 5548 714 1423 685 .186 266 24 196 99 39 2325 .291 .284 .615 158 40 62
MON 2275 5437 711 1404 682 .151 294 25 144 100 39 2180 .298 .218 .626 143 40 72
NYN 2361 5341 642 1317 607 .162 262 24 124 70 31 1999 .311 .227 .612 136 45 78
PHI 2227 5543 791 1448 757 .218 325 27 166 72 29 2325 .369 .315 .736 120 38 46
PIT 2346 5581 753 1492 711 .219 275 45 163 86 37 2346 .351 .310 .699 112 38 79
SDN 2384 5531 678 1442 641 .187 257 32 128 76 39 2147 .331 .278 .679 142 42 50
SFN 2273 5456 755 1440 713 .219 281 29 180 53 37 2319 .312 .306 .667 130 39 76
SLN 2391 5672 876 1580 827 .283 342 32 196 82 32 2574 .382 .418 .841 136 54 87

Pitching

Team G W L IP SO BB BF H HR ERA ER R GC SH SV WP BK
ARI 614 84 78 1454 1291 526 6230 1379 150 96.530 621 685 7 5 42 52 9
ATL 651 101 61 1455 992 555 6247 1425 147 77.170 663 740 4 1 51 53 4
CHN 582 88 74 1456 1404 617 6227 1304 143 80.640 619 683 13 6 36 63 3
CIN 637 69 93 1448 932 590 6423 1578 209 173.930 818 886 4 1 38 46 3
COL 662 74 88 1418 866 552 6364 1629 200 121.290 826 892 3 0 34 48 8
FLO 557 91 71 1445 1132 530 6165 1415 128 111.900 649 692 7 2 36 51 11
HOU 664 87 75 1449 1139 565 6176 1350 161 96.770 623 677 1 0 50 40 4
LAN 600 85 77 1457 1289 526 6001 1254 127 76.660 511 556 3 3 58 50 5
MIL 622 68 94 1452 1034 575 6459 1590 219 128.150 811 873 5 1 44 57 8
MON 599 83 79 1437 1028 463 6171 1467 181 159.150 641 716 15 2 42 71 4
NYN 573 66 95 1412 907 576 6204 1497 168 146.910 706 754 3 3 38 45 7
PHI 599 86 76 1444 1060 536 6195 1386 142 84.400 651 697 9 7 33 53 4
PIT 619 75 87 1441 926 502 6293 1527 178 135.870 746 801 7 3 44 50 2
SDN 635 64 98 1433 1091 611 6303 1458 208 138.210 775 831 2 0 31 64 3
SFN 622 100 61 1437 1006 546 6090 1349 136 92.810 595 638 7 4 43 68 8
SLN 622 85 77 1463 969 508 6375 1544 210 187.770 751 796 9 3 41 53 1

Fielding

Team ID G TC PO A E Fld% InOuts SB CS CS% PB
ARI 2668 7072 5227 1718 127 .974 17459 84 38 0 15
ATL 2719 7389 5342 1910 137 .974 17472 91 34 0 7
CHN 2660 7032 5211 1697 124 .980 17476 70 42 1.00 12
CIN 2704 7376 5474 1734 168 .960 17359 77 28 0 9
COL 2695 7198 5250 1814 134 .965 17030 73 42 0 11
FLO 2507 7104 5398 1618 88 .972 17343 70 25 0 11
HOU 2693 7170 5307 1756 107 .970 17396 86 48 1.00 4
LAN 2732 7172 5197 1833 142 .955 17495 117 75 0 8
MIL 2604 7237 5461 1645 131 .945 17424 100 37 0 14
MON 2717 7230 5338 1770 122 .975 17251 40 38 2.00 11
NYN 2847 7185 5365 1684 136 .976 16958 98 52 0 5
PHI 2565 7134 5299 1720 115 .961 17325 112 24 0 16
PIT 2744 7407 5399 1872 136 .955 17327 69 26 1.00 10
SDN 2729 7108 5314 1675 119 .974 17176 95 25 0 15
SFN 2670 7211 5413 1703 95 .978 17248 67 29 0 8
SLN 2983 7333 5560 1681 92 .974 17566 55 24 1.00 7

West

team W L Att Rk SOP
San Francisco Giants 100 61 3264898 1 1006
Los Angeles Dodgers 85 77 3138626 2 1289
Arizona Diamondbacks 84 78 2805542 3 1291
Colorado Rockies 74 88 2334085 4 866
San Diego Padres 64 98 2030084 5 1091

Central

team W L Att Rk SOP
Chicago Cubs 88 74 2962630 1 1404
Houston Astros 87 75 2454241 2 1139
St. Louis Cardinals 85 77 2910386 3 969
Pittsburg Pirates 75 87 1636751 4 926
Cincinnati Reds 69 93 2355259 5 932
Milwaukee Brewers 68 94 1700354 6 1034

East

team W L Att Rk SOP
Atlanta Braves 101 61 2401084 1 992
Florida Marlins 91 71 1303215 2 1132
Philadelphia Philies 86 76 2259948 3 1060
Montreal Expos 83 79 1025639 4 1028
New York Mets 66 95 2140599 5 907

Awards

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Tagged:
Albert Pujols, Andruw Jones, Atlanta Braves, Barry Bonds, Brad Penny, Chicago Cubs, Chipper Jones, Derek Lee, Dernell Stenson, Dontrelle Willis, Dusty Baker, Eric Gagne, Florida Marlins, Gary Sheffield, Greg Maddux, Ivan Rodriguez, Jack McKeon, Jason Schmidt, Javy Lopez, Jeff Bagwell, Jim Edmonds, Jim Thome, John Smoltz, Josh Beckett, Juan Encarnacion, Juan Pierre, Kerry Wood, Kevin Millwood, Lance Berkman, Los Angeles Dodgers, Luis Castillo, Marcus Giles, Mark Prior, Mark Redman, Mike Lowell, Moises Alou, Montreal Expos, New York Yankees, Preston Wilson, Rafael Furcal, Richard Hidalgo, Russ Ortiz, Sammy Sosa, Scott Rolen, Steve Bartman, Todd Helton, Ugueth Urbina, Wrigley Field

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